Study Examines GABA Involvement in Depression

As depression can greatly impact an individual, the continued research into its treatment is necessary. A recent Science Daily release revealed that the next advance in this treatment could relate to a group of brain chemicals that are involved in virtually all brain activity. In a study co-authored by Drs. Andrea J. Levinson and Zafiris J. Daskalakis of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), researchers determined that compared to healthy individuals, those with major depressive disorder have altered functions of the neurotransmitter GABA. This study found that those individuals with the most treatment-resistant forms of illness demonstrate the greatest reductions of GABA levels in the brain. This suggests that medications that correct a GABA imbalance could advance the treatment of major depressive disorder. “Our findings build on the idea that some current medications do not help many patients because those drugs don’t affect the GABA-related brain chemistry,” said study author Dr. Andrea Levinson, in Science Daily. The GABA neurotransmitter and its receptors are involved in many different brain functions. GABA is part of the brain system that enables individuals to fine-tune their moods, thoughts and actions with an incredible level of detail. It also provides the necessary inhibitory effect that individuals need to block out excessive brain activity that can lead to excessive negative thinking. “We are advancing the goal of a truly personalized medicine,” says study co-author Dr. Daskalakis. “It is intriguing to think that we may soon be able to apply simple brain stimulation to identify which treatments are most likely to help the individual person, eliminating the guesswork. That is, through these findings we may be able to one day determine who is and who is not going to respond to traditional pharmacological approaches to depression.”

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